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The Temple of Abydos

Posted On : 20/02/2023 Kate Clark 50
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This ancient place of worship is located in Abydos, one of the oldest cities in Upper Egypt. It is located about 11 km west of the Nile at a latitude of 26° 10' N. The original name is Abdu which means temple hill, as tradition has it that the head of Osiris was kept there

 

The Temple of Abydos 

The temple of Abydos , a very ancient place of worship, is located in Abydos (Abydos), one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt. This city is located west of the Nile , to be precise about 11 km from the village of El-Balyana, at a latitude of 26° 10' N. The original name is Abdu which means hill of the temple, it was the center of the cult of Osiris , tradition has it that the head of the god of the dead was kept there. Abydos was considered the most sacred Egyptian city in the time of the pharaohs. A place of pilgrimage for the Ancient Egyptians, the gateway to the Afterlife was believed to be in the desert hills to the west of this site.

 

The Temple of Abydos

Precisely because of the religious and funerary beliefs associated with the place, many pharaohs were led to choose it as the location for their sepulchral monuments. For this reason in the past the immense area of Abydos was covered with endless ancient cemeteries, lakes and temples, among which the temple of Osiris. Today there is little left to see other than the imposing cenotaph of Seti I, ruler of the 19th dynasty, built between 1294 and 1279 BC, definitely one of the best preserved temples in all of Egypt .

 

This site lost much of its tourist visitors following the violence that occurred in the early 1990s, however, especially given how safe Egypt is today, Abydos makes for a pleasant day trip option from Luxor , even more if you also consider the possibility of seeing the Dendera temple which is located on the way. From here, through a pleasant route along an asphalt road that winds through sugar cane plantations, you reach another small village, Al-Araba al-Madfuna, on the edge of the archaeological area.

 

Abydos: eight million vases and the mystery of the Osireion

The temple of Abydos was built in honor of the goddess Menmaatra Sethi to whose cult the second ruler of the 19th dynasty of Egypt was faithful, who was also the first to deal with Egyptian influence in the rest of the Middle East. 

The area we are talking about is one of the most ancient and sacred places in Egypt, where in fact the rulers of the first dynasty were buried, the two temples that we can admire today date back "just" to 1300 BC and are dedicated to Sethi I and his son, Rameses II. Sethi I was the son of Ramesses I and the great royal wife Satra, he ascended the throne around the age of thirty-seven, after having held the position of high priest of Seth. At the time of his accession to the throne, it was not since the Second Dynasty that the name of this deity appeared in the royal titulary, despite the spread of the cult of him in the Nile delta region . 

 

The first, preceded by two large square courtyards, consists of two stupendous hypostyle halls supported respectively by 24 and 36 limestone columns entirely decorated with engravings and hieroglyphs, divided into rows of 12, which anticipate the seven chapels dedicated to Seti I, Ptah, Ra-Harakhty, Amon, Osiris, Isis and Horus, i.e. the major Egyptian deities and the reigning pharaoh himself. 

The ceilings of the chapels are blue, decorated with five-pointed stars to represent a starry sky and the walls, covered with white stucco, are adorned with figures painted in bas-relief, still capable of giving a sensation of vivacity of colors and freshness.

The temple then continues in a series of rooms and galleries, all filled with images in relief and thousands of hieroglyphs, some arranged horizontally and others vertically for greater harmony and elegance, which tell the deeds of the pharaoh and the various divinity. Leaving the temple, on the back, it can be seen in a large hole in the ground. It is one of the hypostyle rooms of the cenotaph, or false tomb, of Seti I with a central atrium surrounded by water. In some places on the walls of the corridor, texts taken from the Book of the Afterlife are still legible. The visit of Abydos ends with the temple of Ramses II located a short distance from that of Sethi I, of which only columns and walls of just two meters in height remain. 

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By Kate Clark

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